I mean, c'mon, it's Ronnie Earl, f'gawdsakes, it's a Stony Plain release, and the esteemed guitarist-singer starts off Good News with a mid-paced instrumental boogie, letting the B3 (Dave Limina) go full throttle for the first set of solos, afterwards featuring no less than three different guitarists sliding in: Zach Zunis, Nicholas Tabarias, and himself. What more couldja want? A rending vocal number? Cool! You get that, too, and right away as Diane Blue renders a searing version of Sam Cooke's Change is Gonna Come in the second cut. Nails ya to yer seat from start to finish. The title to this CD is in fact a tribute to Cooke's Ain't That Good News, from which Change became one of the anthems and rallying cries of the Civil Rights movement (the denouement of which is sadly still very much in arrears—'n if'n you think I'm exaggerating, then tell me, as just one of too many instances, why Black Americans have to have their right to vote consistently renewed via the Voting Rights Act instead of automatically and perpetually granted as a citizen right, why the goddamn thing had to be amended no less than five times because of "special provisions"…and will need to be revisited yet again in 2031; go ahead, America, I'm listening).
Soon everything lays back in an almost Ibiza jazzy instrumental a bit reminiscent of the old Booker T and the MGs with a skosh of Sea Level, both after a few mojitos on the Gulf Coast, light, refreshing, balmy, extremely satisfying, with Earl showing just how classy he can be when reining everything in, even getting a bit Steve Khan-esque, every note a pearl. That, all and sundry y'all, is a part of The Broadcasters mission, in their own words, to "broadcast peace, hope, good vibrations, and soul". Mission well accomplished every step of the way! Diane tucks back in for a mournful classic, In the Wee Hours, Ronnie sounding like Peter Green at his most reflective in the OLD Fleetwood Mac days, blues language such as one rarely finds so well stated on the down-lo…and my favorite cut for precisely that reason. I almost stopped listening to the rest of the CD, it's so incredibly well done, 11 minutes of ultra-moody that's easy on the ears, heavy on the heart, and artful as all get-out.
Good News yanks you back out of that blues-puddle of mournful bliss by chunkin' in another instrumental, a B-3 dominated tune, dancey, effervescent, and loquacious, even a little churchey. However, for the 10-minute Six String Blessing, it's back to the well, where the waters are cool, slow, and so deeply azure you think you're staring into the night sky. Everyone dials it back again, as languorous as a good scotch and five different shades of mellow. The 7-minute Blues for Henry, co-written with blues god Hubert Sumlin, starts out similarly oriented, even maybe a tad Mayberry-ish, just that much more afternoon perky on a summer's day, but then kicks into gear, Ronnie wailin' as the sun fattens and lowers in the sky. My oh my oh my! But I'm tellin' ya……that version of Wee Hours? Good God! And Earl's choice of Ms. Blue as vocalist. Well, let me prophesy that fans may well revolt if he doesn't bring her back next time around as well.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles